Red Cross ambulances hit by Israeli strike

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Six ambulance workers and their patients were wounded when Israeli missiles struck Red Cross ambulances on a rescue mission in south Lebanon. The attack took place near Qana when an ambulance from Tyre arrived intending to evacuate three patients from the border town of Tibnin. Two ambulances were completely destroyed as their roofs were pierced by missiles. According to one of the drivers, two guided missiles were fired at each ambulance. It is claimed that the ambulance headlamps were on, the blue light overhead was flashing, and another light illuminated the Red Cross flag at the time.

The patients, the Fawaz family, all had minor injuries before the missiles struck the ambulance. Now the son is losing his leg and the other is treated for shrapnel wounds.

The Lebanese Red Cross demanded that Israel guarantee their safety through the United Nations or the International Red Cross or they would cease all rescue missions. The South Lebanon ambulance service is run entirely by volunteers. This means that 100,000 people of the Tyre district, villages below the Litani river, would have no ambulance transport to reach hospital.

Red Cross volunteer Mr Shaalan says although this is the first time ambulances have been hit by Israel in this war, it was only a matter of time. A lorry from the United Arab Emirates carrying medical supplies was hit in eastern Lebanon last week killing its driver and injured six Lebanese Red Cross workers. Yesterday afternoon the Red Cross office in Tyre trembled when two missiles landed in the building across the road.

International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement Flags

An Australian correspondent reports from the city of Tyre that at least 10 Lebanese ambulances bearing the International Red Cross emblem have been targeted in Israeli air strikes in the south of Lebanon that have killed more than a dozen civilian passengers on transport to hospitals.

An Israeli army spokesman said, “The incident in which vehicles were hit last night occurred in an area known to be one of the main sources of the launching of hundreds of missiles.”

The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement said it had set up two southern bases, in the port of Tyre and the town of Marjayoun further east.